OBE for Harrogate Water Brands Managing Director

James Cain, Managing Director of Harrogate Water Brands has received an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.  The award recognises his services to impoverished communities through the company’s Thirsty Planet bottled spring water brand which raises funds in support of Pump Aid.

Thirsty Planet was launched in 2007 and has since raised £1.8m for Pump Aid by selling over 40 million bottles of spring water through retail, foodservice and vending partners. With many independent and major retailers proud to supply Thirsty Planet, including ASDA and Waitrose, as well as onboard Thomson Airlines and numerous restaurants and catering outlets including Peyton and Byrne, Bartlett Mitchell and Gaucho restaurants.

A guaranteed 4 pence from every litre of Thirsty Planet sold is donated straight to Pump Aid, a British Charity that helps rural communities in remote sub-Saharan Africa to have a constant source of safe, clean, drinkable water.

Thirsty Planet’s guaranteed and consistent monthly donations ensure that Pump Aid has the financial security to plan ahead and expand its operations. The clean water that Pump Aid provides has a massive impact on health and has transformed communities, enabling children to go to school and crops to be irrigated.

Since starting as a small community project in Zimbabwe, Pump Aid has grown into one of the leading water charities in Africa, having raised more than £15 million since inception. Its aim is to help tackle unsafe water which remains Africa’s biggest killer of children claiming 4,000 young lives a day – five times the number killed by HIV/AIDS and twice as many as those claimed by malaria.

The charity’s key achievements include:

  • 1.35 MILLION PEOPLE given access to clean, fresh water
  • 5,000 rural communities in Zimbabwe transformed as a result of having pumps installed
  • 3,500+ communities in Malawi have received pumps, serving a total of 400,000 people

Pump Aid provide over 10% of the rural water supply in both Zimbabwe and Malawi nationally combined.

On learning of his award, James Cain said, “I’m absolutely delighted and incredibly proud to have been awarded an OBE by Her Majesty The Queen.  It is a tremendous honour and most importantly, it is a reflection of all the hard work and dedication of every person who works for Harrogate Water Brands and every supporter of Thirsty Planet and Pump Aid.

“Whilst I shall be collecting the award at Buckingham Palace, it will be on behalf of all of my family and colleagues involved with the business.”

James Cain’s wife and Marketing Manager, Nicky Cain said, “I believe James’ impact in supporting Pump Aid extends far beyond his role in helping to set up Thirsty Planet. He works passionately to promote Thirsty Planet and Pump Aid at every opportunity, ensuring it continues to be a major success. Throughout, his commitment to Pump Aid has remained unwavering.

“It is his personal commitment and efforts that have gone above and beyond what would be expected as a charity partner and highlight his deep conviction in wanting to help some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people on the planet. As a family business, we are all very proud of James and of our achievements together through Thirsty Planet.”

Full Press Release available

Thirsty Planet announces Rugby League World Cup Sponsorship Deal

Thirsty Planet Rugby League World CupWe are excited to announce that we have secured a major sponsorship deal with the Rugby League World Cup 2013 to become the official water partner of the tournament.

The sponsorship deal includes a significant donation to our charity partner, Pump Aid, which will help fund two Rugby League World Cup elephant pumps, helping to provide clean, safe drinking water to disadvantaged communities in Africa.

We will also have perimeter ads at each game, a presence on the Rugby League World Cup website and in the official match programmes, as well as placement of our water bottles at press conferences and in dressing rooms.

The Rugby League World Cup is a truly global sporting event, attracting media from over 100 countries. It is also a family-friendly tournament and one where hydration is a very important factor. That’s why it is such a fantastic natural partnership for us.

Thirsty Planet is an ethical brand with a strong emphasis on supporting communities, both in Africa and in the UK. As well as contributing towards providing clean, safe drinking water and improved sanitation in Africa, the brand also helps educate children on the importance of healthy hydration in UK classrooms. We are delighted to announce that as part of the sponsorship, the Rugby League World Cup will be donating to Pump Aid, which will contribute towards two elephant pumps for communities in Africa.

We’re looking forward to a great competition with a lasting legacy for both organisations and for communities both here and abroad.

Thirsty Planet’s Pump Aid Partnership Funds 300 Billion Litres of Clean Water

Despite only launching in 2007, we’ve managed to raise over £1.4 million, all thanks to your generous donations and purchases of Thirsty Planet Water. In case you wondering exactly where your money goes, check out our work with Pump Aid here.

Who Are Pump Aid?

We chose to work with Pump Aid for one simple reason: they’re the best at what they do. They exist solely to bring appropriate, affordable and sustainable water to the most disadvantaged and deprived areas in rural Africa.

Pump Aid’s on-going tireless work has ensured that countless African communities have benefited from their hard work in building and maintaining elephant water pumps across the continent. This in turn has earned them the recognition they deserve, and have been nominated as one of Big Break’s Top 100 Good Causes – you can vote for them here!

Together with Pump Aid, we have now given millions of people across Africa access to over an amazing 300 billion litres of clean drinking water. This amazing feat has ensured that the areas in which people die from drink contaminated water no longer suffer from such toxic consumption, parts where children cannot go to school because they must walk for miles to get water can finally get the education they deserve, and communities suffering from malnourishment now have the water they need to grow crops and prosper.

Thank You

Without your kind donations and continuous support, we wouldn’t be able to make such a huge impact on communities throughout Africa, so on behalf of everyone at Pump Aid and Thirsty Planet – thank you! We believe that knowing you’re doing something so amazing makes our water taste even better than ever before, and together, we are making a real difference to so many lives.

Happy New Year – What’s In Store For 2013?

As the title of this blog post suggests, we’d like to wish all our friends a very happy New Year. Last year was a fantastic year for Thirsty Planet and we accomplished many of our goals with the support of our partners and most importantly, everyone who bought Thirsty Planet water. It’s so easy to take drinking clean, safe water for granted but the magnitude of the work Pump Aid are doing in Malawi is truly astonishing and we’re very proud to be contributing to their inspirational and lifesaving achievements.

Malawi Visit Recap

Through working closely with the Pump Aid team we’ve always been regularly updated with photos and videos showing the changes being made to community’s throughout Malawi. However, in 2012 we were fortunate to visit Malawi and meet up with the Pump Aid Malawi team to see their invaluable work first hand.

If you’ve been following our blog you‘ll have seen the four part series that covers the week that we were there (Malawi Blog Link), along with Thirsty Planet partners from Thomson Airlines. The wonderful memories of seeing children’s lives transformed by clean water and improved sanitation and the impact on communities who are now able to grow their own crops will certainly stay with us for a long time. It also brought home the severity of the situation and yet how quickly and simply we can make an enormous difference. Without the help of organisations such as Pump Aid and without our continued support lives remain at risk through disease and health problems caused by dirty, unsafe drinking water.

Let’s Make 2013 Even Better

For those of you who regularly drink Thirsty Planet water and who follow us on Face Book and Twitter, you’ll have seen that we’ve recently rebranded our Thirsty planet water with a new label design – We hope you like it! You can be sure that it’s the same pure spring water inside the bottle, and most importantly a fixed, guaranteed donation is paid to Pump Aid with every purchase. We’ll also be working very hard to generate as much noise as possible this year to get more people drinking our water and raising contributions for Pump Aid, so please help us by sharing our messages either via Facebook, Twitter or of course by word of mouth.

Our Facebook Page
Our Twitter Page

Throughout 2013 we will be working closely with our supporters to raise awareness of Thirsty Planet and  post regular updates on their success. Don’t forget that If you’re organising or taking part in an event please continue to support Thirsty Planet, either by drinking Thirsty Planet water whilst, providing our water at a local event or championing Thirsty Planet in your school or workplace. –Whatever you’re doing,  please let us know, we’d love to share your pictures and news.

Until our next blog we hope your New Year’s resolutions are going well (especially if your resolution is to drink Thirsty Planet!)

Thirsty Planet Malawi Visit – Day 2

With our first night in Africa behind us, we all grouped together again over an early breakfast and made our way to the Pump Aid office, located in Lilongwe. With a trip to Mchinji to visit a local school and community, seeing our first Elephant Pump and the chance to meet some of Pump Aid team on the agenda the drive to the office seemed to take no time at all.

When we arrived at the office we were greeted by Misheck Vwemu, Seka Phiri and John Kandulu. Peter from Pump Aid quickly introduced us all and then our mini bus arrived ready to take us to our first destination – a concrete workshop in Mchinji where the elephant pump components are created. Making an Elephant Pump

It was only a short journey to the concrete workshop and our bus driver Gift had obviously done the route many times before. Even though there were eight of us in the mini bus our journey went quickly, with us taking every opportunity to wave at passers-by.

We arrived at the concrete workshop, which was a large open fronted building made available to Pump Aid by the District Authorities, on their grounds. Inside Misheck and Seka explained how each of the components were made, showing us how everything from the pump casing through to the rope guide had to be fashioned. They also explained that concrete made the ideal building material, as it can be moulded and set into durable shapes, at relative low cost.  It was interesting to learn that while many of the components are prefabricated here, the actual village communities receiving the pump manufacture the bricks, for the well-linings. They also collect river sand and contribute allot to the project. This is not only practical, but gives the communities an increased sense of ownership. Seka and Misheck highlighted the need to build and install pumps during the dry season which is between April and October, as the rainy season can make travelling to the more remote locations impossible and digging in saturated soil makes the work too dangerous.

After spending a little more time at the concrete workshop we again boarded the mini bus, this time heading to a school located in a village called Katutula, which is in the district of Mchinji. The journey took just over 2 hours and much of the road was dirt road and incredibly bumpy.

As I mentioned in the previous blog post, I was a little nervous to see the reaction of the local village communities. However, any apprehension about the welcome we’d receive quickly vanished.

We arrived at the school and upon leaving the bus we were quickly surrounded by friendly smiling faces, and it seemed that the whole village had come out to greet us.  The village chief was there, the school’s headmaster and of course many of the school children, who had especially stayed behind after school to welcome us. We introduced ourselves and then it was the children’s turn. Each of the children told us their name and they were so delighted to tell us about their Elephant Pump.

We were shown the Elephant Pump that had been installed by Pump Aid and were told that before it was installed they’d had to walk many miles for water that was often unclean and led to many of the villagers becoming sick.

We were allowed to operate the pump ourselves and it was moving to see fresh, clean water flow out, sourced from deep underground.

After the children had finished introducing themselves to us it was beginning to get late and we all walked into the centre of the village, where we would be spending the night. The village chief was incredibly proud to show us all his home, which was a simple brick building with a corrugated iron roof. Inside the hut there were a mats made from bamboo to sleep on. Obviously there was no electricity or any appliances at all! The chief introduced us to his family and it was decided that some of us would stay at the chief’s house and some stay at his sister’s home.

The idea of sleeping somewhere so simple was a little daunting, but with the generosity shown by the chief and his family we were more than happy to make up makeshift beds from the pillows, mosquito nets and sleeping bags that we’d brought with us. Once everything was in place we had a traditional Katutula dinner. In Malawi, food is normally eaten with your hands, the idea of which took a little getting used to. We ate a simple dinner of chicken and nsima, which is a type of maize.

After dinner we settled in for an evening of dancing and it was incredibly rewarding to see the children all so happy and healthy. We joined in with some of the traditional dances and then it was our turn to show off! After a quick chat amongst ourselves we chose the ‘hokey cokey’ and before long the whole village had joined in. As the evening drew late we decided to turn in.  One thing I wasn’t prepared for was just how dark the village was after the fires had been extinguished. Looking at the sky I’d never seen so many stars and you could even see the white dots that made up the milky way.  Impressive!

The night time was incredibly hot and made more uncomfortable by the need to wear a mosquito net to protect against mosquitoes carrying malaria, which is common throughout Malawi. With such a busy evening it didn’t take too long to fall asleep wondering what new experiences tomorrow would bring…..

Thirsty Planet Malawi Visit – Day 1

Setting off

It might be fair to say that the magnitude of the Malawi trip only really started to sink in whilst travelling along the overcast motorway, on the way to Manchester airport.  Concentrating as lorries thundered past, throwing up spray from the road, a mixture of both nervousness and excitement settled in. Arriving at the airport at around 3 o’clock meant there would be time to meet up with the other members of our Malawi party, before setting off for our connection flight in Amsterdam at 17:00 and then it would be on to Nairobi, Africa.

At the Airport I was met by Peter Boonman from Pump Aid, Carmel from Juice works and both Ozma and Marie Nichols from Thomson Airlines.  Marie is a senior flight attendant with Thomson and through her hard work developing charitable brands within the organisation was offered a place on this great opportunity.

As we waited for our flight we began to discuss our expectations for the visit. What would the places we’re visiting be like, would the people be welcoming? The 2 hours waiting time quickly disappeared and the call for boarding echoed out through the terminals PA system. We boarded the plane.

With a short flight to Holland, we changed planes at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and boarded the second plane to Nairobi. Being a night time flight the view from the planes window was limited to the wing. However, the flight was good and we touched down in Africa for the first time at Nairobi Airport.

Although it was dark you could certainly get a sense of the heat. After only a short change over stay we boarded our plane to our final destination: Lilongwe, Malawi. As we flew above the African landscape the wait for sunrise certainly felt like forever. However, the wait was certainly worth it. If you’ve never been to Africa before it can be quite a surprise. Sure, many of us have seen documentaries about different parts of the continent, but seeing the outstretching deep red sands, the interspersed trees and limited vegetation and all offset against the deep, rich blue sky, will be something I’ll never forget.


As the plane touched down, we quickly gathered our belongings and left the air conditioned cabin behind. As you might imagine, the first thing that hits you from the planes doorway is the hot, dry African sun, relentlessly beating down.

We made our way inside and awaited our luggage.  Two of our bags soon arrived but as we waited it became clear that there was a problem: two of the bags hadn’t left Amsterdam airport during the hurried transfer.  It wasn’t so bad, but Marie was disappointed as she had items that were going to be given to the animal sanctuary that we were set to visit later in the day. After a short wait we were picked up from the airport by mini bus and taken to our accommodation, a simple hostel in Lilongwe.

With so much travel our day’s itinerary had  only one main visit scheduled and that was to the Lilongwe wildlife sanctuary to meet Bella, a lion that had been rescued from poor conditions in a Romanian Zoo by the organisation Born Free.

Thankfully Born Free, a charity supported by Thomson Airlines, ensures that neglected wild animals are rescued and rehabilitated. Seeing before and after pictures quickly brought home the difference Born Free make and it was wonderful for Marie to see Bella so close.

After the Lilongwe wildlife sanctuary we returned back to our hostel and visited a local eatery where we were able to relax after the long day and talk about just some of the things we’d already seen.

Although we hadn’t seen the work we’re supporting through Pump Aid yet, the first day was certainly an experience. Seeing a totally new and beautiful landscape, meeting local people at the sanctuary and of course seeing how happy Marie from Thomson was after meeting Bella will stay with me for a very long time.

With a visit to a local school, meeting the local community using the Pump Aid pumps and sanitation not to mentioned seeing how the elephant pumps are made planned for tomorrow a good night’s sleep will certainly be needed.…


Thirsty Planet Visit Malawi

As you might imagine, it’s not every week that we get a call through from Pump Aid inviting us to accompany them on a visit to Malawi! To say we were excited would be an understatement.

As all the noise in our office settled down, the magnitude of the week’s visit to Malawi unfolded.  We’d be taking multiple cross country flights, seeing African wildlife and most importantly we’d have the chance to see first-hand the fantastic work we’ve helped Pump Aid do, whilst meeting the people benefiting from clean, lifesaving water.

The trip also gives us the opportunity to further extend the invite to representatives from Thomson Airways and Juiceworks, as it’s important for our retail supporters to see how they’re efforts are again directly saving lives and transforming communities in Malawi.

With so much to see in just one week, here’s just a snap shot of our itinerary.

14th October:

Leave the UK bound for Africa, via first Amsterdam Airport and then onto Nairobi.

15th October:

Leave Nairobi Airport and fly to Lilongwe, Malawi. Pick up from the Airport and travel to our accommodation.

Visit a local wildlife sanctuary.

16th October:

Travel to Mchinji, a small town in Malawi and see the making of the Pump Aid Elephant Pump components.

Visit a local school to meet some of the children benefiting from clean, safe water and learn how it has changed their life.

Spend the evening with the local Mchinji community.

17th October

Visit to another school and meet more of the local community

Visit to a site where an Elephant Pump has been installed

Visit to an area where a well is being prepared

Travel to Mchinji Boma

18th October

Watch an Elephant Pump being installed

Travel to Kasungu to see additional clean water projects

Travel back to Lilongwe

19th October

Prepare to leave Africa and return to the UK.

As you can imagine we’ll be taking lots of pictures and documenting this fantastic experiance at every opportunity, so expect to see additional, detailed blog posts soon.

We’d also like to say thank you for all your help supporting Thirsty Planet and enabling Pump Aid to save lives through clean water projects.

Until next week, wish us well.

It’s time to make some noise

You may have noticed that Thirsty Planet has been a bit on the quiet side recently?

We’ve been keeping a bit of a low profile, keeping our heads down and still working hard at raising money for Pump Aid, but during this time we’ve also been undergoing a rebranding exercise of Thirsty Planet.

Four years and £1.4 million later we felt Thirsty Planet deserved a make-over!

We’ve a lot to shout about. We are proud of our achievements and have so many success stories from communities who will continue to benefit from our support.

We’re committed to growing Thirsty Planet and continuing to donate significantly to Pump Aid. We conducted research with our customers and listened to how they felt we could improve our range so we could benefit the charity the most. This has included re-branding packaging, a new website and working on campaigns to raise awareness working closely with Pump Aid. We hope you like the changes!

This is just the beginning.

There’s lots more planned to help you find out more about what’s taking place with the field teams in Africa and ways to get you and your friends engaged with Thirsty Planet and Pump Aid’s work.

Spread the word. We can make a bigger difference working together.